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Canadian Mining Abroad: The Boom and the Backlash


A mural in San José del Progreso portrays a bleeding Canadian flag on the coattails of the Grim Reaper, armed with a mining pick, who brings money and death to a sunlit countryside of people, animals and crops. The quotation from Pablo Neruda asserts: "We will win. We, the simplest people, will win. Although you don't believe it, we will win."

Business-friendly laws have made Canada the preferred legal residence for three-quarters of the world's mining companies. But many of those companies actually operate in developing countries whose legal systems inspire little confidence, even among their own citizens.

Violent attacks ranging from assault to murder have been reported from scores of communities near Canadian-operated mines in Latin America, Africa, Europe and elsewhere. Company spokesmen typically blame such events on murky 'pre-existing' conflicts.

Thanks to the generosity of donors to the Tyee Fellowship Fund, journalists Liam Barrington-Bush and Jen Wilton were able to put that explanation under scrutiny in one place where it's been offered: a Canadian-owned silver and gold mine in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.

Barrington-Bush and Wilton spent four months investigating the conflict in San José del Progreso, the growing grassroots resistance movement to mining operations, and what Canada could do to better police the country's global mining sector.

In This Series



TIMELINE: Canada's Mining Controveries

A (very) partial chronology of murder, rape and corruption surrounding ventures abroad.

By Liam Barrington-Bush and Jen Wilton, 30 Sep 2013



A Mine, a Movement and a Town Divided

In Mexico, local resistance to Canadian mining companies is growing as the industry booms.

By Liam Barrington-Bush and Jen Wilton, 30 Sep 2013


A mural outside the town hall in Magdalena Ocotlán

Conflict Dogs Canadian Mining Abroad

Companies blame violence at foreign sites on long-standing local disputes. Does the story hold up?

By Jen Wilton and Liam Barrington-Bush, 1 Oct 2013


Cerro de San Pedro mine

Mining Victims Seek Justice in Canada

Precedent-setting case could bring more accountability to industry abroad.

By Liam Barrington-Bush and Jen Wilton, 3 Oct 2013


Mining Gallery cover

In These Mexican Towns, Mining Resistance Is Fertile

Communities share tips on how to 'just say no' to Canadian-based companies.

By Liam Barrington-Bush and Jen Wilton, 4 Oct 2013